The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Tiassa, spoilers

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Here is where I’ll gleefully read posts from those who liked it and merrily skip posts from those who didn’t.

corwin

Author: corwin

Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

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  1. Gleeful reading ahoy.

    Reading Piro in Vlad’s voice and Vlad in Paarfi’s voice was an absolute joy. I can’t help but wonder if the silver tiassa will show up again, though.

  2. It contained all the things that I find most fun about your work, so I’m quite pleased with this one. I suspect it will wind up around #2 in my personal rankings of the Vlad books.

    After the first sentence or so of Devera’s section, when I realized what was going on, I made a sound of glee that terrified my cat, so that was doubly entertaining.

  3. After waiting and waiting for this book, my waiting was well rewarded. I’ve missed Vlad and company. Thank you.

    And on the subject of your move north: After all the waiting Minnesotans do every year for Spring, waiting at the DMV should be no sweat. Remember, waiting isn’t doing nothing: it is a doing of something invisible, mysterious, and necessary. And it’s an especially good time to read a good book or 6.

  4. @1 Dennis – I am fairly sure we’ll see it again, given Vlad’s statement in the epilogue: “Any point in a process looks like the process was leading up to it if that’s as far as you’ve gotten.”

  5. I loved Tiassa! Besides enjoying the principal McGuffin itself, I was enthralled that Mr Brust and Paarfi have finally collaborated on something real and true, instead of just having hissy-cows at each other.

  6. So Vlad obviously wrote Tag. And Paarfi wrote Special Tasks. Who wrote Whitecrest? Also, how do you know the Necromancer?

  7. @4 Stefan

    I was thinking more that Vlad says he’s only beginning to figure out what the silver tiassa does. Vlad’s statement in the epilogue struck me as a more general comment, and a little aside from Steve to us.

  8. @Didi: I’m more curious to know where he got the 500 Imperials.

  9. Good books often remind me how much they aren’t food.

    You can devour them in great haste, and enjoy the coarse stuffing of your face, and then afterwards enjoy it again slowly, giving the subtle flavors the appropriate time on the palate.

    Beginning to re-read Tiassa now.

  10. @Majikjon (8): Oh, that was no problem, he just introduced some Dragaerians to the wonders of poker.

    Thank you so much Steve for another wonderful book! I loved the Devera reveals – in all my years of trying to figure who her father was, I never saw that coming!
    And it was a great treat seeing so many old friends again! The Captain and the Countess, Pel (!), Sticks, Paarfi – so fun!
    Though I did hope that amidst all those musicians at the end we might see a crazy drummer… Next time!

    Thank you for making this a great day, and I hope you get settled in your new home soon, so you can write us fans some more awesome books!

  11. While I enjoyed the book, I have to say that I felt it was the weakest of the Vlad novels so far. I had been truly looking forward to the interactions between Vlad and Khaavren, but in the result they were rather flat and there were only a couple of times they met. Conversation between Vlad and Sethra, for example, tends to have a lot more spark to it. I did thoroughly enjoy the stuff with Cawti.

  12. @Zaphod – I had the same experience. I read it twice, back to back, and I’m glad I did.

    I’m curious about are some of the places Devera visits. I know she appears in all of Steve’s books, and I just didn’t recognize the spots she visited (“an empty tower in a dead city and a man made of metal played music for me” – anyone?)

  13. Mr. Brust Usually I leave this kind of statement to people I know personally, but given how I dont imagine I will ever meet you, circumstance provides an out. I must say far and away that at this moment Tiassa is my favorite of your works. The collection of styles, the crossover of characters, the several future plot and character revelations, etc make this an awe inspiring book. As someone who has been reading your work, not just limited to the dragaera novels, since I was 15, I derive great joy from them. Tiassa has given me the most. I define portions of my self through your characters and I simply want you to know that I am deeply grateful for your continued writings. From hintings on the site I have inferred you are going through a troubling time right now and I just wanted to tell you that what you do makes people happy. Your books move people on mental and emotional levels, myself included, and because of that we will support you in whatever way possible. So again thank you for another brilliant book and the raw happiness that comes with it.

  14. Hmm. I wonder if the man made of metal that Devera saw played her music on a banjo, and had a ring made of skin?

    I much enjoyed the book. Having Vlad approach a problem in Khaavren’s style was of course to be expected, but the inversion of having Khaavren approach one in Vlad’s style (which is my reading of “Special Tasks,” though I may be wrong) was a particularly nice touch.

  15. Thank you, Mr. Burst. This falls in the upper echelon of the Vladiad. The first section was perhaps the best Vlad-narrated story you’ve given us. This made the transition into the 3rd person and Paarfi a little hard, but telling them that way best served the story, so I understand. And, of course, I love Paarfi. However, I won’t go as far as Dennis in saying I really wanted to hear Vlad dialogue filtered through Paarfi. There was the anticipation once it became apparent it would happen and it was humorous, but Vlad is so stark, enjoyable, and loved filtered only by himself.

    Lots of little things I loved or noticed, a few:
    I noticed you wrote it Shoen and Sticks instead of Sticks and Shoen. I assume that you were making a “Sticks and Stones may break my bones” reference a little less obvious.
    Devera! She was great!
    Glad my favorite word Apropos got used twice. And, I swear, one word you used struck me as made up and I liked it, though I can’t recall it now…it described something…gah, I forgot.
    The Cawti difference in part 1 and part 2 had me feeling some how I assume Vlad feels. Well done.

    Two things on future books. One, Morrolan, I miss. If I see him in a description of the next one I will jump through the roof! Please don’t take this as someone getting a good soup asking for another, ya know, just tell him I said hi.

    And…it seems ever more present that Vallista is the one…there aren’t a whole lot of titles left. It’s the one. Don’t go being contrary because it’s obvious either! The how isn’t obvious, just which title.

    G.R. @14 – Creatures of Light and Darkness reference?

  16. Stefan @ 12: Sounds like something from Samuel Delany’s “Fall of the Towers”.

  17. Loved the subtle joke, “What rhymes with Aliera?”
    Nonchalantly says something else that ends in “Verra”. Ha!

    This book was about relationships: Vlad/Cawti, Vlad/Sara, Piro/Ibronka/Tag, Khaavren/Daro, Aliera/Kieron. And I must say, you nailed it. That’s why this book is great. That’s why you’re my favorite author. Use fantasy’s elements as flavoring, cook it with your style, and give us real food, a real story. Steak, not candy. Too many writing within genre fiction only know how to make candy.

  18. Steve:

    Thank you again for another fine outing.

    I continue to be amazed at the ways in which you are able to breathe new life into the series by taking each book and making it something different and unique, and yet weave the strands of continuity through the piece so that it adds to what came before, rather than distracting from it. In terms of plotting, as well as in how the story unfolds, each adventure follows its own path, and plays by its own rules.

    This really felt like the culmination of a couple decades of fine stories, intersecting in unexpected and interesting ways. It focused on characters and situations that felt at once familiar and measured, and simultaneously spontaneous and haphazard.

    I think I can safely say this is one book that you wouldn’t ever want to read as your first entry into the world of Dragaera. Not that that bothers me in the slightest. Most fantasy series, if they ever reach 13 books, have long since degenerated into just mushy re-hashes of previous installments, with hasty paint jobs and different names to disguise the similarities.

    With the Vlad books, each one is its own entity, and always a cracking good read.

    Bravo, sir.

  19. I kid you not, 5 minutes of non-stop Snoopy Dance of Total Joy when the UPS guy showed up. My neighbors thought it was a fairly artistic stroke. Then, at 2am, my long suffering girlfriend had to tell me to stop jumping on the bed after completing my third re-read. *sigh* Some people just don’t get it.

  20. this may be my favorite vlad book to date.

    what’s nice about it that sets it apart from the others is its approach to historical content. as in, in previous books you relied upon putting in hints of things in vlad’s past not written yet with vague things that could then flourish into full books, or you put in some details in a book in the past that could set up for a book in the future (i’m specifically thinking of dragon to issola here).

    i think the approach in this book was much more practical. dealing with the history of the silver tiassa across vlad’s timeline made it so that its relevance was solid and forefront and more self-contained. not that i always promote the idea of neat and clean self-containment, but in this case i think it enhanced the experience here and would have detracted if all of the important details leading to this book’s climax/resolution were split amongst various books because of how intricate the details behind each section had to be to reach its conclusion.

    the most important thing in why the book is a great success regardless of whether or not it actually succeeds (um) is that yet again you continued to push your own boundaries and your own formula. Athyra was not my favorite book because i missed having the interactions between Vlad and Loiosh, but it’s one that i respect a great deal because of how differently you decided to approach the narrative versus any Taltos book previously. you continue to experiment and break your own mold, not afraid to tread new ground even with something that is a well-established and successful method of storytelling. Tiassa is another great example of this, and you pulled it off brilliantly.

    it was interesting to see how Paarfi dealt with what i consider “present” events versus the historical fiction that we’ve been exposed to before. it felt odd to hear Vlad’s conversations in Paarfi voice. not in a bad way.

    Cheers. 🙂

  21. So much I could mention that I liked, but my favorite moment is when Vlad says “It’s with the boy.” That moment was the payoff for me. Made my day with 5 words. Pretty cool.

    One question for SKZB, or anyone else who wants to reply. Wouldn’t Vlad drawing a morganti weapon in Savn’s presence be possibly devastating to his recovery?

    Loved Kaavran’s cool and collected response to the drawing of such a powerful weapon.

  22. @Chad

    Loved the drawing of Teldra so much more than the reaction. The subconscious defense of his former wife even in the presence of his current flame was priceless. Also, khaavren very clearly did that on purpose in order to provide more information to Pel. Loved that whole epilogue scene

  23. Lets go meta!
    Shawn as a picture of Vlads consciences? First he thought that he did not had one, then he found he had one but it was damaged from his own action and others. And now is he working activily to repair that damage.

    Loved the book, but the Paarfi text tempted me several times to speed read over the text, and I was trying to take it (relative) slowl with this book!

  24. @Drake

    Good points.

    Interesting juxtapostion. Vlad speculates that the silver tiassa connects the conscious and subconcsious mind, and then he immadiately does something without realizing it.

    And I was so concerned with Savn at that moment that I missed Kavraan’s info gathering chops. Now Pel and Kavraan know Vlad carries a Morganti weapon. Wonder how that will play in the future?

  25. @chad

    considering how Pel seems to have been collecting data on vlad for some time now, im sure it will factor in in the future. Im also curious how the 9 on 1 fight didnt end up with 9 dead bodies. Teldra can erase souls with a thought. Either Vlad didnt draw her, or Vlad is slowly becoming able to control her abilities/being uncomfortable with using them.

  26. @ Drake

    Re: the 9 on 1. I was thinking he was carying a rapier along with Lady Teldra, for just such an opportunity. But I like your thinking about having more control/communication with his great weapon. That fits the conscious, subconscious plot strand.

  27. Steven,

    Congratulations on another fine work ! I enjoyed this one immensely despite, and perhaps because of, so many items still on the horizon to — hopefully — address.

    I’ve always felt you had tremendous skill in dialogue and Tiassa certainly didn’t disappoint there. Some of the exchanges were just laugh out loud funny.

    “Use your imagination.”
    “You want me to make it up?”

    And the “repercussionist” was just priceless.

    I fervently hope your new (old) surroundings will be conducive to your writing efficiency as I am already eagerly awaiting the next Desecrator piece or Vlad novel.

    Regards,

    Steve

  28. it was amazing. thank you.
    loved the return to paarfi.

  29. Wheee! That was fun (though I’m not a fan of the Paarfi voice— way too longwinded), what’s not to like about an author playing with style and structure. Keeping it fresh. In complete control.

    Not to mention avoiding repetition, power creep, offensive and offensively stupid politics– the typical failings of the genre. And doing it over all these years and books.

    And making the fans squee. Some well loved characters there.

  30. Very nice! But I’m afraid we need to work on getting more “Active Brains” in this world…

  31. The book was an absolute joy. I loved every minute of it, even the sad ones.

  32. Read it. Loved it. I’ll read it again.

    Vlad reminds me a bit of Dr House in some aspects.

    I keep thinking Verra saying, “Daughter dear, I want a grandchild so go and fuck your brother.” Very Ptolemaic.

  33. Not quite finished it yet, loving it so far; I just had to get on and say it’s making me want to hear Tortaalik not in Paarfi’s voice! Thanks!

  34. Bought a copy for myself, and sent one to my exwife (who gave me Jhereg, years ago). If I had to pick a book to start someone on for Steven Brust, it would be this one. I’m going to finish it tonight and review it for our library tomorrow.

  35. I think Lady Teldra would suppress herself around Savn; anything else would be discourteous.

    It’s curious that Paarfi doesn’t mention her.

  36. Do you think that, had Paarfi been Permitted to Take a Moment and Express Two Words about the Very Nature of a Particular Weapon wielded by an individual known by some as one Count Surzke, also known as the Eastener who goes by the name of Vladimir with said patronymic known to be Taltos, of whose aforementioned blade within which Resides the Soul of One Particularly Memorable Seneaschal of the House of Issola, that we’d ever hear the end of it? That would just be his title for the chapter.

    Thanks for sparing us of that, Mr. Brust.

  37. Remember when SKZB said that he was going to piss off the rest of his fans with this one? I finally figured it out while reading a conversation between Vlad, Piro and Ibronka. One particular remark from Vlad was so quick and so funny that I blew my drink (Vodka and Gatorade) through my nose and messed up a couple of pages. Since I was lucky enough to get a first edition, I was pissed.

  38. Also, SKZB,
    This one is a work of art. Tiassa is now right up there with Issola as my favorites. Thanks for everything you do.

  39. So I enjoyed Tiassa a hell of a lot. Not my favorite of the Vlad books, but certainly in the upper third. (Issola and Iorich rank as #2 and #3, with Orca at the top, far and away, by my reckoning, but maybe that was a weakness from finding Kiera just as good a storyteller, in her own unique way, as Vlad.)

    I liked the multilayered story, as well as seeing Vlad and Khaavren exchanging witty remarks, although as always, there was a bit of me that wanted to strangle Paarfi, as there are times with his writing where I simply want to scream in a Graham Chapman-esque voice “Get on with it!” That said, I was pleased to see he knew at least at some points where to simply let the story carry it where it needed to be. I was a bit surprised by his not mentioning of Lady Teldra as well, but I suspect Vlad simply kept her sheathed during the entire section Paarfi related.

    I agree with darknote in that Athyra was probably my least favorite of the Vlad books, simply because, to me, it lost some of what makes Vlad so special – his personality. The interchange of Vlad and Loiosh has always been, to me, the heart of the series. It’s sort of a boy-and-his-dog, if the dog was an absolute wiseass and could talk back. I love the way Vlad tells a story, with a wink and a nod, over a nice meal and a good drink. And, as expected, Paarfi mutes that, although not as much as I had feared he might.

    Part of what appealed to me so much about Tiassa was a chance to see Vlad over several points of his life, particularly the run up to his marriage with Cawti. Vlad relating his intention to marry Cawti to Kragar, well, let’s just say I’d been looking forward to seeing how that played out for a long time, and it did not disappoint. And Cawti’s portion with the Countess certainly made Cawti’s change in demeanor between Phoenix and the more modern books make a lot more sense to me. Also, Vlad in his younger years was so much more hotheaded. I’d forgotten how much so, having been more accustomed to the Vlad of Issola/Iorich.

    I also agree, though, that I miss Morrolan, Sethra, Kiera, Alieria, Daymar and, most especially, Kragar, and hope we will see more of them again. Our time spent in Tiassa during the early days of Vlad made me yearn to spend more time with them again.

    To be honest, if you haven’t considered it, you might want to think about doing a book with Vlad and Kragar in a fashion akin to Orca. Or, honestly, maybe even a straight Kragar/Daymar story, outside of Vlad entirely, now that Kragar is running Vlad’s turf. Or Morrolan dictating a story of Vlad to the person Vlad usually sells his tales to, not necessarily even with Vlad in it either. (I’d rather see a Morrolan story that way than through Paarfi.) Any of these could be interesting, if not fascinating, detours, but, as always, I hope we get more of Vlad on Vlad.

    And to this day it continues to amaze me that Vlad has never met with the Empress’s lover. Easterners being as uncommon as they are, the fact that the Empress has two (or three, if you count Cawti!) in her confidence, and they have yet to meet seems almost criminal.

    Lastly, I was glad to see the Empress speaking to Khaavren about how she’d like to see Vlad protected, and the hinting that, at some point, Vlad’s problem with The Organization might move from being a personal one to a political one. That said, I’m slightly disappointed that the Jhereg still think that an Easterner with a Great Weapon, and three close friends, each of whom have their OWN Great Weapon, is worth spending resources to rub out. At some point, it’s just gotta be bad business. (Besides, Gods help the person who makes an enemy of Sethra Lavode…)

    And I, like I’m sure all of the rest of the fans, am still, still, STILL waiting to see the scene of Lady Teldra “waking up,” as Sethra described it. I know it’s coming. The Great Weapons have been enthralling to me since their very first appearance, and now that Vlad has one, it feels like the mystery should slowly be unfurled. Please, don’t hit us with all of it at once, but, kindly, don’t hold out too much longer.

    As always, thanks Steven – the Vlad books make my life brighter for having them in it.

  40. @39:

    I find that ‘Paarfi’s’ writing makes reading a book tedious and somewhat painful.

    However, it makes RE-reading a book an absolute delight.

    On the balance, it’s a situation I’m more than happy to accept, since I only read the book for the very first time once; whereas re-reading them happens dozens of times.

  41. So, does this mean that Aliera’s special friend is now alive, or was that just a temporary thing?

    By the by, I noticed this little number up on the Tor site:

    http://www.tor.com/stories/2011/03/the-desecrator

    In which we find out some of Telnan’s backstory. Sweet.

  42. @Scott: It seems pretty clear to me that it does, bearing in mind the highly variable values for “now” that are implicit where Verra/Devera are involved.

  43. Ok, just skipped all of the comments–I’ll get back to them eventually.

    Just a point of interest Steve–if you want readers to finish your book, you have to give them the opportunity to recover after breaking down in hysterical laughter. I hit the conversation between Piro and Vlad about an hour ago, and … well … Ok, I’m still reading it.

    Read one line, laugh hysterically, pause, regain composure with great difficulty, read one line, laugh hysterically.

    Wash, rinse, repeat.

    At my current pace, I expect to finish this book some time in April 2012. Or 2013–I’m not rushing.

  44. It was good to see Sticks again, and Savn.

  45. upon re-read 3, i think the funniest thing in the first story is the constant change in how Vlad refers to “Blue Fox”. Each new name cracks me up.

  46. I will be a dissenter. My comments follow in semi-coherent clumps that will seem arrogant since I am a non-writer criticizing an (often) great writer:

    I will state upfront that I am a bit biased since:
    1. I am not a fan of the Khaavren Romance novels (although I respect the intention behind them).
    2. I am not a Cawti and Norathar fan. I have always found them boring. I am like Aliera in that this is the ultimate condemnation

    This is a weak entry in the series.

    If you are going to use three different narrators you need to be writing something 600 pages or so.

    Glad to see Vlad is drinking beer more often rather than horrid wine

    The Jhereg-hunting-Vlad story should have been resolved about 3 books ago, immediately following Issola.

    Feels like the last three books have not advanced anything. With Issola things seem to have been picking up steam, but then stalled

    three straight Vlad books that I have felt were weak – first time this has happened so I’m a little worried that the mojo is gone

    Vlad books are all about the cast surrounding Vlad; the more they feature Aliera, Sethra, Kragar, Morrolan, Sticks etc. the better they are.

    I like Lady Sara A LOT. A great character despite having just met her

    Mr. Brust gets props for sticking with the Savn storyline.

    When do we get a book narrated by Loiosh?

    finally found a copy of Agyar – the rumors are true, it is Mr. Brust’s best work

  47. Yeah, that was definitely the Steel General there.

  48. I thoroughly enjoyed Tiassa. I look forward to re-reading it many times in the future. Thank you for another great addition to the series. I can’t wait until the next one!

  49. Some of my thoughts while reading:

    “Holy cow, Devera’s POV! An appearance by Piro, and it’s not even a token one! No way, Cawti and Norathar ‘working’ together again! Verra and Barlen talking, Kieron alive, and Deverra being summoned to the world of the living so to speak. Vlad and Paarfi together, Khaavren and Paarfi not together, so many cool things are happening!”

    “How in the world could Steve have possibly thought he’d piss off anyone with this one? Man, that was so good, I can’t wait to re-read the whole series chronologically like I always do after I finish a new one. Ok, so that means I’ll get back to Tiassa after…I mean…before…crap.”

    Well played, sir. I can’t even remember the last time I read the entire universe in published instead of chronological order, but I guess I’ve got no choice now.

  50. After neglecting my homework, my children, and my husband for two and a half days, I just have to add my two cents. Whenever I try to lure someone new into the world of Vlad and Khaavren and Sethra and Morrolan ( which is often), I take great pains to emphasize my beliefs about how Steven Brust always seems to be raising the bar for himself with each new book. Tiassa provides ample evidence for me to support that claim.

    Like others who have posted here, I have wished for some contact between Vlad and characters from the Khaavren romances, while simultaneously feeling nervous about how it might turn out. This book put all that to rest. The introduction of “Khaavren” characters into Vlad’s world was beautifully done, letting the reader puzzle out just who, exactly, Vlad is talking to. The switch to Paarfi’s voice was as surprising as it was appropriate for our “brave captain.”

    Now that you are back in Minnesota, I hope I will have to opportunity to tell you in person just how much your books have meant to me and what a privilege it is to be able to join you in a small way as you continue a truly amazing journey as a writer. Thank you so much.

  51. If I’m honest (and why not?), when an Issola walked towards a sword which was resting near a river… I thought it was a physical manifestation of Teldra who was retrieving herself and then I thought “Oh my god, Brust is terminally ill and is literally trying to wrap everything up in this one book so that he doesn’t leave his readers hanging.” I was distracted for the rest of the book.

    Also, when I read this, I burst out in laughter and was thankful that I wasn’t in public:
    Pg. 233
    “‘Captain,’ said Khaavren, both by way of affirmation and correction, thus conveying the maximum amount of information in the fewest possible words; a custom of his, and one that this historian has, in fact, adopted for himself, holding efficiency of language to be a high virtue in all written works without exception.”

    Thanks for a good read 🙂

  52. Hmm.

    Ok, now I’m through it, and like all of your books I can’t wait to read it again. Normally it’s because I really enjoyed getting through it.

    Well, Ok, I really enjoyed getting through it. But I normally read your books on the surface level and just absorb them the first time ’round. I know I’m coming back for more, so it’s no loss to appreciate the nuance on the third, fourth or tenth read.

    This one doesn’t lend itself to a surface read–too many voices, too much undercurrent, too many layers. I really enjoyed it, but I’m not sure what I think of it yet. Let’s chat again after the cycle turns and I’ve read it 17 times. Or so.

    Puzzling, stimulating, thought-provoking. I should have gone with my first instinct and taken a year to finish it. On the other hand, it’s a page-turner.

    Diving in again–see you in a few.

  53. I find the speculation regarding the Steel General particularly funny, since I broke off my re-read of Creatures of Light and Darkness to read Tiassa. Honest.

    Loved the book, Mr. Brust. I was hoping Papa Cat would show up. And how.

    Loved the Empress looking out for Vlad. Loved seeing Norathar and Cawti in action. Loved Savn showing up. And Sara – well golly gee, how sweet. And as for Kieron and Aliera ….

  54. Does anyone know about the availability of Tiassa in Canada? Canadian Amazon has the hardcover listed but it’s not available. Chapters only lists the e-book. All the local bookstores are Chapters too. I’m frustrated!

  55. Taryn. Bought mine at Bolen books in Victoria BC yesterday. They still had 5 on the shelf after I grabbed mine.

  56. I found 4 authors: 1. original Vlad (what I consider his “hardboiled detective” mode; 2. late Vlad (or perhaps mature Brust); 3. Paarfi; and 4. Devera.

    As I noted elsewhere, the easy movement among 4 auctorial voices reminding me a grace note in a Dorothy Sayers story….

  57. Why can’t I post a comment?

  58. Looks like my first and second post here was disappeared. I’ll try agin. Without the Website link.

    Hello Mr. Brust and all you fans out there. This is Steve the Younger, the guy who first noticed Miska the Coachman’s true identity.
    I just want to say this was a wonderful reading experience; Tiassa rewarded two reads in a row.
    Some nice work there, Steve, making a book where essentially everything promised to happen, fails to happen, and yet stuff is always happening.
    This book isn’t so much a story as it is a wonderful excuse to return to, and advance, lots of long-term character arcs.
    Someone thought the point of the book was relationships between couples. I think the real point of the book was following Vlad’s ascent from obscurity, to competence, to exile, and advancing next to notoriety. In this book you see his remarkable achievements well on their way to becoming public knowledge, something he’d pretty much avoided till now.
    Detailed observations athttp://dragaera.wikia.com/wiki/Vlad_Taltos#Notability but I just want to say that now that Pel is determined to know everything he can about Szurke, and that Paarfi will at some later date consider him worth a history, I think it’s a foregone conclusion that Vlad’s about to get famous, at least among those who matter, and possibly among everyone. This will “interact oddly” with his fugitive status.
    More character development happens, too. Vlad himself continues (from Athyra and Orca) to form a surrogate family round himself, trying again to put down some kind of roots, after his failed attempt in Adrilankha, and again in Burz. At the same time, his stature in the Empire is rising to the point where his “hunted” status may become academic. His Achilles’ heel remains Cawti, of course.
    At the same time, we tie off lots of loose questions about Piro, Savn, Pel, Sara, Norathar and Cawti. Very satisfying from a series point of view.
    Fans of the series’ rich moments have seen plenty to rave about too, from Vlad-as-Tiassa and Khaavren-as-Vlad, to Piro pulling a scam on Vlad pulling a scam on Piro.
    Satisfying, funny, light, and inspired. Looks like we know where the Silver Tiassa spent its last year.

  59. Speaking of the dead Citadel of Marachek at Midworlds’ Center where the Steel General plays his banjo from some abandoned tower, the time games that Verra pulls with (Aliera and) Devera remind one of how in Creatures of Light and Darkness, Thoth and Set are each other’s father: it seems that Devera had some part in her own genesis.

  60. Excellent, Steve. Love the shout-out to the late, great Zelazny and the multiple PoVs. And great to have the prolix Paarfi wander in to the series.

  61. First–I loved it, great job Steve.

    When Vlad drew Lady Teldra with Svan around, I’m sure Teldra would have tempered her negative emanations. Remember that Lady Teldra is a great weapon, not just a Morganti.

    And lastly — great job Steve.

  62. Loved it SOOO much. I pre-ordered it for my Kindle and then watched it intently as 3/29 rolled in so I could begin reading as soon as possible.

    To continue the food analogy/differences started by Zaphod @9, with books you can take *all* of the ingredients you like most, mix ’em all together, and end up with something incredibly good. This book was like Filet Mignon topped with chocolate and truffles… in a good way. You know what I mean.

    The Devera POV… it won’t be an understatement to say I’ve been waiting for this for decades! (well, two decades and change).

    Thanks, Steve! it’s a great book.

  63. Finally sat down to read it yesterday, and finished it almost in one sitting (took a break for a meal).

    I’m in the “pro” camp. This was about as perfect a Tiassa book as I could have hoped, and it was still a surprise at that. I just kept nodding my head as characters appeared (Ibronka, Daro, Timmer, Sara).

    Re: Bluey, Foxey, etc… – Is Vlad Sawyer from Lost?

    Now, back for a re-read.

  64. I have finished my first reading (in one night – could not help myself), and now finished my second pass. My book actually arrived on time Tuesday at my small local book store, but my wife did not get around to mentioning the phone call until Thursday! Just as well, otherwise I would have missed some work deadlines.

    I would first like to state how wonderful it is to have a series of characters who are willfully competent. There are so many stories and plots out there that are held up completely by characters that are willfully unobservant of the obvious. This gives Steve’s characters a depth, momentum, and purpose, even if that purpose is not always revealed to the reader.

    I also very much appreciate this collection of basically short stories that connect to an arc. We got to see many characters, points of views, and most important new connections between the characters and between parts of the larger story. And to use the food metaphor, it was like a party with many clever hors d’oeuvres, none by themselves appropriate for a main course, but together making a memorable meal.

    I was though curious why Vlad was so willing to let go of the Silver Tiassa for such a small caper, considering its source, plus its potential commercial or divine value. Maybe he thought that Mafenyi was starting to catch up? Or maybe the Silver Tiassa itself pushed Vlad to moved it along?

    I was also surprised that a single sorceress could create such a credible Jenoine threat. The potential for domestic terrorism is staggering (“Pay me 1 million gold or I will shut down the city with a threat you cannot ignore”). While Kosadr did not get to fight the actual Jenoine, he probably did get the much more complicated and messy task of preparing for this new class of local threat. Hopefully he will get it right before the Jenoine themselves use this idea for diversionary tactics. Also, how did that same sorceress block access to the Gods? That seems like a very tall order, and even if doable once I would think that Gods would not allow the continued existence of someone who might do it twice. Or, were the Gods just not paying attention since there was no actual threat to set off their own alarms?

    Here is my biggest question. How did Dathaani know about the Silver Tiassa, that it was made by Mafenyi, and that it was connected to Vlad? Certainly none of the major players in its origin nor in the caper (Devera, Vlad, Piro, Ibronka, Lady Daro, Feorae) would have told. Plus, Vlad did not share with Feorae or the others the true origin of the piece, unless it was part of the sales pitch and completely not mentioned in our story. Perhaps it was a spy in the guard or court?

    In any case, I very much enjoyed the book, and was pleased to get the hard back, full price and all!

  65. Dreyna asks some excellent questions! Now I want to know all those things too!

  66. dreyna @65- I think the reason the gods did not respond was because it wasn’t an actual threat. As far as storytelling goes, it was a good mechanism for Steve to use because it increased tension, and though a faux-lead it made sense within the un-seen truth behind everything going on.

  67. Majikjon@8 – I expect the 500 Imperials came from his book advance. I expect additional “research” funds were used towards the bill at Valabars.
    That in fact would be a great fund raiser idea! A guided dinner tour with Steve at Valabars, or the closest local equivalent!

  68. @ Didi 6: Who wrote “Whitecrest”? I think that’s obvious. There are four narrators in this story that I can identify. Vlad, Devera, Steven, and Paarfi. Mr. Brust narrated “Whitecrest”, as I see it.

    @ Majikjon 8, Leah 10: It also occurs to me that it was unminted gold. Do we actually know how much we need to make 500 Imperials?

    • Digression: I have no expectation that anything in our world matches Dragaera or its universe. Indeed, several hints in various books, including the flickering of the Orb as it searches its own memory, and much of Issola in general, make me wonder … well, never mind. If I recall, Mr. Brust had a certain job before he wrote novels. In other words, this suggestion of a sketch of a hint of an idea of a theory is too obvious to me to be accurate. Still, though, it makes pretty much everything we’ve seen over the course of these stories possible.

    @ SKZB: Most excellent, sir. Thank ye for a fine outing.

  69. My biggest beef with all your books is that they all end, and then I have to troll blogs for a year or two in anticipation of the next installment.

    But i enjoyed this one so much that, in this rare case, I’ll put aside my irritation at finding it contained yet another ending. I guess an ending is necessary as a place to glue the back cover. But if you could find a way to make the next one last infinity longer, that’d be swell.

    And I feel obligated to defend Paarfi from some of his critics…he is brilliant. I love him! I find myself craving some Dumas after only about a sentence or two of his style. Using him as the vehicle to connect the two “worlds” was just a great treat.

    Thanks again for another wonderful book!

  70. Well, here is my incoherant rambling.

    Speaking of unreliable narrators…I may be a little slow, but it took at least until the second read to realize that the coversation between Vlad and Khaavren in the Epilogue makes no bloody sense if Vlad already told him about the location of the silver tiassa in the last chapter of Special Tasks. In fact, it’s basically the same conversation – but note that in Paarfi’s version Khaavren threatens to track Vlad down, and Vlad refers to Savn as “the boy”. In Vlad’s version Khaavern actually does track him down, and Vlad is pissed off when Khaavren refers to Savn as “the boy”. So whose version are we to believe? I’m thinking Vlad is the more reliable narrator on this one, not least because it seems unlikely he’d announce the location of the silver tiassa in front of a packed audience. So that means that either Khaavren made up the conversation in the tavern, or Paarfi did. Why would either of them do this? If it was Khaavren, is he hiding something? If Paarfi, did he have any motivation other than a literary one – placing the conversation in the tavern wraps the story up neatly and works well with his style. What other liberties might he have taken with the events occuring in in final chapter? Why does this sound like an English essay assignment?

  71. Paarfi would probably explain that it is his duty as a historian to paint as complete a picture as possible of the events he has the honor to present, and where the records are imprecise as to the exact time, place, and dialogue of an encounter the reader can have no doubt that such an encounter (with possible insignificant differences of time, place, and dialogue, done purely so that the reader will fully comprehend the importance of the event) did in fact take place. Should the reader have any further questions on the matter he is invited to look at the relevant documents for himself upon which point this historian is certain that his curiosity will be completely satisfied.

    ie, Paarfi found one line in Khaavren’s case records and extrapolated – the description of what it might do is based on his own experience with the tiassa.

  72. Ditto @Tom52’s laughter after Paarfi’s claims of brevity. I also loved when Khaavren told Vlad, “You are very complacent, my lord.”, and shortly thereafter tells Sara, “You are most complaisant, my lady.”.

  73. So much fun. SO much fun. Granted I’d had a mudslide or 3 for the first half of it, but it was just a delight to read. I can’t wait to go through it again.

  74. Thoroughly enjoyed the latest entry in the Vlad Taltos story. Considering the supposed function of the Silver Tiassa I am curious to see if it will have anything to do with waking Lady Teldra up. The Desecrator short story makes it pretty clear that the swords have the equivalent of minds (if there was any doubt) and Teldra is unconscious (so to speak) at the moment. Hopefully, we’ll get to see but at the same time we all must keep this in mind:

    http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2009/05/entitlement-issues.html

  75. Dreyna asks: “Here is my biggest question. How did Dathaani know about the Silver Tiassa, that it was made by Mafenyi, and that it was connected to Vlad? Certainly none of the major players in its origin nor in the caper (Devera, Vlad, Piro, Ibronka, Lady Daro, Feorae) would have told. Plus, Vlad did not share with Feorae or the others the true origin of the piece, unless it was part of the sales pitch and completely not mentioned in our story. Perhaps it was a spy in the guard or court?”

    I can’t answer all of this, but I can make some suggestions. I suspect that Dathaani was researching Vlad’s past, in hopes of finding some clue as to his present whereabouts. In so doing, he discovered at least some of what happened in “Tag”. Intrigued by the silver tiassa, Dathaani researches its history (but how?), and steals it (not necessarily in that order). His possession of the tiassa helps to inspire him with the audacious plan to fake a Jenoine attack. All guesses, but consistent with what we know.

  76. Two beefs:
    1- That between Amazon and USPS they couldn’t deliver my book any faster than nine days past release. Next time I might have to suck it up and brave the mall.
    2- That I enjoyed it too much, devoured it too quickly, and have to immediately go back for a second read to savor fine details. Maybe this time I’ll manage to keep the grin off my face so I won’t be asked, “Why are you smiling?”

  77. “Intrigued by the silver tiassa, Dathaani researches its history (but how?)”

    That ties into an idea I had – Paarfi is also a former owner of the tiassa: his section isn’t a history of Vlad, it’s a history of the tiassa. Somehow he discovered that Feorae had it, or maybe it was seeing it in Feorae’s collection that sparked his interest. From there he found out about Vlad, and it was when he was making inquiries amongst the Jhereg that Dathaani learned about it.

  78. re: how did Dathaani know what he did. I’m sure Vera knows all about it too. She probably felt Dathaani needed to know in order to further some obscure capricious plan of hers that we may or may not ever learn about. She probably revealed the information in a dream since that is what she usually does.

  79. I, for one, was struck by the extreme loyalty of Timmer. She was, perhaps, not as forthcoming with her Brigadier as she could have been.

    If Khaavren had communicated any interest in locating Vlad (which I’ll be starred if he didn’t!) at the meeting of the Special Tasks Group, Timmer certainly could have proven useful in that capacity.

    I begin to like this lady more and more.

  80. Then again, Khaavren may have lied to Vlad. I would hate to think that.

  81. @Jamoche – but would he be the former owner, current owner, or future owner of the silver tiassa at that point? Devera was jumping around in time quite a bit.

  82. I would like to follow up on the comments of Drake@25 and Chad@26. I do not believe that Lady Teldra was present at the fight by the river, nor at the tavern.

    For example, Vlad did not leave behind 9 dead bodies after the river fight (or more likely 1 dead soulless body and 8 pairs of running foot prints). Even if Vlad did not for some reason draw Lady Teldra as an alternate to risking his life in the river, Lady Teldra was not in the inventory when he was rescued (an item very hard to overlook). While one could argue that Loiosh hid her to protect her, it still does not make sense that Lady Teldra would allow Vlad to be in that much danger in the first place.

    I in fact do not believe that Lady Teldra was present in any of Vlad’s visits to Adrilankha, for the simple reason that while Lady Teldra is Vlad’s greatest defense, she is also a huge beacon to the Left Hand, since from Dzur we learned that they could sense a sheathed great weapon a few blocks away even when they were not expecting nor looking for it. So, if Vlad is going to be foolish to keep going in and out of Adrilankha, and also keep making enemies of the Left Hand, then Lady Teldra had best not be there with him.

    On the left hand, it is hard to imagine Vlad parting with Lady Teldra even for a short time (though being able to visit his son is pretty compelling). Also, I do not know whom he would entrust her with, unless perhaps Sethra (or more likely Kiera, who is more understanding and gentle with these kinds of problems than Sethra ;-).

  83. To Alexx Kay@27, I say that the possession of Silver Tiassa by Dathaani opens many doors. Its visible nature could inspire his investigation into its true origin, and as you say its invisible nature could inspire Dathaani’s big audacious plan. What works against this theory is the very short time of his possession (one week according to Feorae), but perhaps Dathaani was clever about this and took it twice.

    To Lewis:39, if Verra did this, then any complication is possible. Verra could indeed have asked the Gods for their temporary silence, and may be setting up something big against the Jhereg as a move to protect her “asset” long term.

    But let me follow up on this with another question: what affect did the Silver Tiassa have on Vlad himself? My theory is this. In “Taltos” Vlad was very hard, hard enough to insult Sethra to her face, and was still pretty much a loner. By Jhereg however, he had an extensive network of contacts, security jobs, a spy network, and dare I say an extensive network of friends in both the Jhereg and the Dragon. Perhaps the Silver Tiassa inspired some of this change? What is against this theory is that fact that Vlad is already comfortable enough with Sethra to just show up on her doorstep when he first gets the Silver Tiassa from Devera.

  84. Hmmm. I must reflect.

    In five hours I read what took months to write. This causes me to feel somewhat guilty.

    I shall now endeavor to read this book carefully and slowly in order to appreciate each detail that so much work and time went into.

    Thank you sir, another excellent read.

  85. Dreya, I cannot account for how Vlad came to be parted with Lady Teldra at the fight by the river, but it’s obvious that Sara returned it to him in his sickbed, where just as in Dzur, the sword instantly healed him of his injuries despite his amulet, allowing him to climb out the window soon thereafter. Remember Vlad couldn’t even manage to sit up in bed when Khaavren interviewed him (or at least led Khaavren to believe he could not), but then Sara showed up and then Vlad climbed out and left. Meanwhile, Khaavren went to the river scene where he deduced that someone in small but expensive boots had shown up after the fight and retrieved Vlad’s weapon.

    I think the reason there was no overt mention of Lady Teldra in “Special Tasks” is because Paarfi himself is unaware that Vlad possesses a Great Weapon, not because it played no part in the events described. It is also possible that Paarfi, or possibly Khaavren, has intentionally omitted mention of it for his own reasons. Certainly in the epilogue you have cause to wonder whether Khaavren by then hadn’t known of Godslayer, considering how he asks whether Vlad had had that all along after Lady Teldra jumps into Vlad’s hand to defend him against possible danger from Khaavren. He has been tasked with finding out everything he can about Vlad, and perhaps this is something he’s by then pieced together. I would not underestimate Khaavren’s diligence in pursuit of his duty, nor set bounds on his deductive powers; both are legendary.

    Speaking of unreliable narrators with their own agendas, one wonders whether Vlad really said to Khaavren that “he’d ask him not to” if Khaavren called Savn “boy” again. Is this Vlad embellishing his own story so he doesn’t come off sounding so harsh? After all, he starts off the book by telling us tells us quite plainly that he lies sometimes; perhaps this is one such. But it may also be part of the long-term story arc of softening up Vlad’s brutal demeanor to make him a more acceptable human — and husband and father. Even so, it may again be Lady Teldra’s calming influence at play here.

    We don’t know for sure how long the silver tiassa was in Dathaani’s hands, but from Devera we learn it was in Paarfi’s keeping for 350 years. That’s a very long time, and goes no small way in explaining Paarf’s insightfulness at knowing (or at least, fabulating) more of the full picture than he really should know, even if, as seems likely, he has had Sethra and likely also Khaavren relating their sides of the story to him. We know that Sethra reads Paarfi, and certainly his writings present her in a flattering light; Khaavren, too, perhaps. Then again, who knows what Devera may have told Paarfi? One never knows.

    I’m still trying to pin down why I found Tiassa so much fun to read, moreso than anything since Sethra Lavode. I don’t think it’s entirely Paarfi. It may be the mix of characters we haven’t seen in a long time; I believe I missed Khaavren and crew.

    But there’s more to it than that. Tiassa is a marvelously well-crafted work, both witty and subtle, that gives pleasure at many levels. That is no knock on any other work; it’s just that this one really tickles you. I know that this one gave some conniptions putting it together, but as far as I’m concerned, the wait was more than worth it. This book really was everything that at least some of us have been waiting a long time for. I’m quite content to wait patiently for such wonders.

    Thank you, Steve, for such a truly delightful read. And reread. And rereread.

  86. So many insightful comments. Like all of your works since I have discovered the world of Draegera, I read it entirely too fast and will need a second swipe at the apple in order to fully appreciate it. On first read, I loved it, for many of the reasons already stated. The re-appearance of so many of the characters I missed was a huge factor in the entertainment together with confirmation of some unanswered questions (like Kieron being Devera’s Father).

    When I was reading the parts involving Cawti & Norathar, I couldn’t help but wonder if that was sparked by many of the Cawti debates that have appeared on this blog. I found myself taking an entirely new view of Cawti in Tiassa and I cannot help but wonder if that was one of SKZB’s intentions with this installment of the series. Also, the fake Jenoine threat really drove home the intensity of the Jhereg’s desire to get Vlad. I mean I knew they wanted him, but that was pretty far-gone and the crazy thing is Vlad is completely unaware of it.

    Gotta echo the complaint about Amazon/UPS, but really I should have just ponied up the extra shipping money. Waiting 6 days after the release was painful.

    Thanks SKZB for another installment. It was a very pleasurable read. Need to re-read it to figure out where I rank it amongst the other books in the series, but my first impression has it right up there with my top 2 or 3.

  87. tchrist, on Lady Teldra healing Vlad: Oh, well done, sir! I’d kind of thought I’d out-subtled myself on that one; I’m delighted you got it.

    Kieno: That’s a valid question. It wasn’t the discussion about Cawti on the blog (at least, not consciously) as much as the feeling I’ve had for a long time that I’ve known some of what was going on with her, but have only been able to express Vlad’s rather one-sided and simplistic view. I felt like she deserved at least a nod in the direction of having some of her thoughts shown. Does that make sense?

  88. That makes sense. I always took a harsh view towards Cawti but it was a view that was based on the information I had. The information presented in Tiassa has caused me to re-think those views.

  89. I’ve been very curious for a long time about Cawti not seen from Vlad’s point of view and was very happy to get this.
    It’s a lot easier to imagine not just Cawti but Norathar and Daro now. I’m enjoying speculating about their other activities, personal and political, outside of Vlad(and Khaavren’s) perspective.

  90. First impressions last forever.

    I was introduced to Vlad many years ago through Savn’s eyes. I loved Athyra, having my eyes opened to Vlad’s world as if I were the most common of common boys. Watching as Vlad discovered he was unintentionally hurting innocent people, and decided to continue the necessary actions regardless, that moment defined Vlad and has stayed with me ever since. I’ve made an effort to own the entire series and introduce Vlad to anyone who might be receptive to a wonderful eye opening world. Waiting for the next installment is hard, but gives me time to start all over with Athyra again.

    Tag did not disappoint. Then you got Khaavren in my Vlad, and it tasted good. Conception, a hilarious and unpredictable interlude. But then, oh no, oh please no. Please let this only be a page or two of torment. For the first time ever, ever in my life, I checked the end of the book before devouring the intervening pages. The wailing and gnashing of teeth as I discovered a full hundred pages of Paarfi was heard for miles around.

    I don’t own any Khaavren books, and I slogged through the first hundred pages of the Viscount’s historical documents before I couldn’t take it any longer. As much as I want to know who these people are and what they’re up to, Paarfi is.. well, if Paarfi’s voice can put me off a significant portion of the stories set in Vlad’s world, that should say something (about my taste, if nothing else). I appreciate the warning about similarity to Dumas, I’ll continue avoiding those books as well. I’m glad so many of you got the story you craved this time, and skzb got to write more in a style he obviously enjoys, I can’t begrudge any of you that. Me, I tasted this book and got a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, only it wasn’t quite peanut butter and didn’t even smell like chocolate. I’m sure Tiassa is a fine French cheese, and the fault lies in my uncultured palate. With Papacat being Tiassa and written by Paarfi and all, I see how the mix was inevitable this time, but please, if there is any mercy in you, please don’t mix the two again, even if Paarfi owns the little metal box Vlad’s been talking into all these years.

  91. Thank you, Steve, this was a delightful read, with many belly laughs along the way.

    And one wonderment. “I showed him how to look in the other place”. Oh my. So much potential in ten simple words. As you once told me to tell someone in Philadelphia, “Wow”.

    Chad, I suspect that Jamoche is correct, and that Lady Teldra would consider that to be impolite, and so didn’t do it. I will explain.

    I begin to suspect that Lady Teldra may already have awakened by the end of the book; we just haven’t seen it yet. If so, then I can certainly see her having the ability to stop whatever it is that Morganti and Great Weapons radiate that makes them so noticeable, if for no other reason than that part of her matrix used to be a certain golden chain… And, being who she is, she would find broadcasting her power so loudly to be, well, impolite (as well as foolish).

    Similarly, when Vlad realized that the Issola attacking him were the relatives (even if estranged) of someone he loved, it would similarly be polite to not have his sword eat their souls. Ditto for visits to Adralankha, and even the fight before the concert.

    Even if Teldra is not awake yet, given what we know of the weapon and its origins, I would not be at all surprised if it behaved this way.

    If a ‘lant’ is a kind of drum, then I suspect we know the drummer, and if it is something more like a lute or guitar we still do. Ditto for the fiddler. Nice to see BiL folks in the story.

    And I promise to never again be surprised by pretty much anything a Dzur-lord does. Well, unless it is something of which their family approves. And, even then, I will remember.

    “This is bound to be good.”

  92. I am a little concerned that I am overreading the relative tersensess in Paarfi’s text as being directly related to his loss of the silver tiassa.

    I strongly suspect that it is a result, instead, of the broadening of perspective of the translator, rather.

  93. I really enjoyed this one. I have not been nearly as skilled in seeing all the connections in Tiassa that everyone else did probably because I read it too fast.

    I can look forward to re reading the series in full.

    Mr. Brust bravo for keeping me up to my eyebrows in swashbuckling adventure since 1984.

    Your writing has aged well!

  94. Vnend, I like the thought of Teldra being able to do what is needed and appropriate, even while being a great weapon. Good thoughts.

    Who knows, maybe that very moment in the presence of the Silver Tiassa and a boy who would need her trademark delicacy, we witnessed her subconscious connecting with her conscious self.

    Thoughts about Cawti and Sara:

    Looks like real life relationship stuff making it into our favorite novels.

    Cawti and Vlad’s connection was a similar past which lead to similar pain/suffering/subsequent issues. Those bonds rarely lead to healthy relationships. I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised that it didn’t last.

    Sara and Vlad seem to be a little like each other/on the same page, and display respect for each other. And Vlad has always greatly admired the grace of Issola women. Sounds like a better connection to me.

  95. When I read the exchange between Vlad and Cawti (Iorich) about whether or not they had taken any lovers, I just assumed that Vlad’s response was in reference to Lady Teldra.

    After Tiassa, I’m having to wonder if he was talking about Teldra/Godslayer or Sara…? Seems more like Sara now.

  96. Curtis@96: I think that the operative word is “Seems more like Sara _now_”. He obviously liked her when they first met, and mentioned wanting to see her at the end of Orca. I do not think they were lovers in Iorich beyond a desire on Vlad’s part, since the last sentence of Tiassa shows us that the relationship is still making the tentative (but definite) steps in that direction.

  97. I would like to take a moment to say how cool it was that Vlad could surprise even Khaavren. Khaavren of course got information from Timmer about how the jherreg were helping Vlad, but Khaavren had (for once) not fully thought out that he himself could be spotted hiding in the carpenter’s shop.

    It was also cool that even Khaavren could not spot Vlad in the tavern, even though Vlad was the only Easterner in the room. Since Khaavren was not surprised by this fact, it goes to show that his estimation of Vlad’s abilities had risen greatly.

  98. Some interesting bits in this one. The insight into Vlad’s evolution in his.. species-ism? was nice. We’ve gone from his early works and thinking that sex with Draegereans is like having sex with cattle to his open attraction to one.

    I also wonder if we weren’t supposed to get some sense that Vlad may have a much longer life ahead of him (if he managed to avoid being killed by the Jhereg) than we’d normally expect of an Easterner. We get mention of the Empress’ consort having extended his life notably, possibly tied to his mastery of witchcraft. Which is partially indicated by the fact that he has two familiars, something Cawti starts to say has never otherwise been done but then stops herself.

    Vlad does the supposedly impossible with witchcraft too – in an earlier book he teleports an admittedly small object using it. It can’t hurt that he’s got a great weapon – something Easterners also don’t do – which apparently can help. Morrolan comments at one point that Blackwand assists his mystical work.

    Interesting stuff. I, like many others, am quite eager to hear about Lady Teledra waking up.

  99. I liked it after I read it.

    And then I slept on it and liked it even more.

    I’ll have to paraphrase–I read it in a whirlwind–but when Cawti talks about not being the kind of person for whom love is the most important thing, looking down on that kind of person, I cried. Yes, but no…soooo no. If Teckla was divorce, this one was moving on. And so many other things.

    Thank you.

  100. DeAnna@100: I agree with your comments about Cawti. It is interesting that Catwi and Daro, women who are fairly polar opposites, both spent time, during their brief interlude together, reflecting on the quality and place of relationships in their lives. It was also my impression that while Cawti had that definite view, she never the less listened to and considered Daro’s view. And of course Daro had a pang of wistfulness of Cawti’s familiarness (if that is a word) with her son.

    On a completely different subject, I was considering the “probably symbolic” four steps down to nothing in the Paths of the Dead. Are they perhaps symbolic of the city of Tir-na Nog’th/Remba? The Zelazny version only has three steps though, when the moon is hidden.

  101. Based purely on the name Vlad and the fact that he sometimes impaled people (at least at the beginning of the series), I have suspected from the first book that he would end up undead. Yes, I’ve read every book in order as they’ve come out. And yes I know that my hunch is not backed by sufficient evidence.

  102. (As posted on my blog Thursday night, more or less.)

    I just finished Tiassa.

    That is all for now.

    [Later…] I think this has a more complex and intricate plot (by the author), and plotting (by the characters), than any of the other Vlad Taltos novels to date.

    Much updating to be done on Cracks and Shards, starting with Brusts, plural.

    (“Low priority, Boss!”
    “Shut … uh. Um. Right, Loiosh. Thanks.”
    “Just doin’ my job.”)

    But of course:
    “Tiassa dreams and plots are born.”

    And it begins with a dream. Or so Vlad says.

  103. Minor point I’m curious about… Remember in “Dragon” how Vlad comments about Lokran’s scar apparently having sentimental value else he would have it fixed. So, is Vlad’s finger beyond Lady Telda’s healing or is it in the sentimental category also?

  104. Opening line:

    “Ever tried to bribe a Lyorn to change the record?”

  105. A third in, trying to savour, it’s good as good as ever mmmmmmmmmmm!

    Regards,
    Andrew

  106. Sharon C. @104: Could be either way. A new finger to me speaks more to regeneration or growing than healing, but that’s semantics I guess. However, as far as I recall, Vlad’s never mentioned it missing hindering him in any way so maybe he likes it as a reminder.

  107. OK, so everyone (including me) loved it …

    Now, how’s the new Vlad book coming?

  108. @104 and @107: Vlad also draws distinctions between Dragaeran and human healing in another book (Dzur, maybe? He considers greeting Morrolan with “Greetings, o scarless one.”). Apparently, Dragaerans only have scars if they want them, while Easterners aren’t as easily healed.

    Or Vlad is lying, and like you said, he’s keeping the missing fingers to remind himself not to make the mistakes he mad in Jhegaala. Or it’s some totally other reason that Vlad hasn’t seen fit to lie to us about yet. Damn unreliable narrators.

  109. @ 109: At the time, my take on the comment was that Dragaerans had access to better healing via sorcery, and also the needed funds to attend to such frivolities.
    Of course now I will need to go trolling for it and make sure…

    I assume Vlad has at least entertained the idea of tacking the finger bones back on, but obviously hasn’t found it worth mentioning, yet.

  110. One of the things I like about this series is that the author makes efforts to describe a society with an actual economy, as organic and complicated as such a thing must be. This is one of the reasons I really liked Orca.

    As I was reading, I found myself wondering about the part where Cawti picks up a horse from a nearby livery. How does that work, actually? In our modern society, you must identify yourself and secure your vehicle with a credit card, with business insurance to cover the rental firm’s deadbeats and accidents. How did this work in the past? Did they in this case need to know Cawti personally? Did she leave enough money as a deposit to cover a possible horse theft? Obviously there was a system for one-way horse rentals, which implied a lot about that industry (I bet they were _really_ happy to have to return a horse from the Palace livery to the Easterners ghetto, probably akin to returning a Pinto – no pun intended).

    Anyway, this simple question sent me to the internet for several hours, where I learned a lot about liveries but nothing about such practical considerations. This then reminded me of the whole chapter in Dumas’ Three Musketeers where our heroes needed to pause the action to fund and gather their “furniture”, that surprisingly being the equipment for the horses and battle gear. I had assumed that the army provided all such stuff.

    Brust and Dumas : entertaining _and_ educational!

  111. dreyna: I bet Emma Bull, if she hasn’t already uncovered that information in her research, could point you at some sources where you might find it.

  112. All right, I feel obligated to comment. Preordered the sweet thing via Kindle, and read it the moment it appeared. Four hours later, I was done.

    Dude. Write longer books. Four hours of Brust is just not enough.

    Excellent story, and if not THE high-water mark, certainly A high water mark. Since I started reading you with the first Taltos book, decades ago, you have matured considerably as a writer, sir. Characters, plot, and the all-important setting combined like a good meal, and the result was immensely satisfying to us literary gourmands.

    Also, discovered your Kindle short-short, and loved it. A piece of fresh Brust was just what I needed to get through the day, and anytime you feel like racking up a little extra poker money, feel free to publish another one. Or many. If I have one regret about following you as a writer, Steve, it’s that your outstanding novels aren’t complemented by nearly enough shorts. You have scads and scads of intriguing characters and unanswered questions — feel free to exploit those torch-bearers for our benefit.

    I have little to add to the high praise above. You continue to be the brightest star in the American fantasy writing universe, and your skills seem to only grow.

    Now . . . let’s see what happens when Vlad decides he wants to win a card game . . . I mean, realllllly wants to win a card game. If you can’t build a story around that . . .

  113. I nearly think this is the best Vlad book ever!

    What is Tor doing deciding Canadians can wait an extra 14 weeks till Joly 5. At any rate I ordered it delivered to my son and am now visiting. Just read it and will reread as soon as I can pry it from my wife’s fingers.

    One question. Chapter the sixth is supposed to end in the solution of a puzzle, but I didn’t see it.

    There are 16 numbered chapters, plus several unnumbered ones. Doesn’t add up to 17 no matter how you slice it.

    When will we see the next story? Hasn’t the time arrived to somehow patch up the feud with the Jhereg? And I was so happy to see Savn again. And healing.

    I feel stupid for not having realized that, of course, Vlad was healed by Lady Teldra. Who presumably can kill without destroying souls if she so chooses. But where was she when he was injured in Jeghalla?

  114. Big Mike: Not obtained yet. Steve confuses us by writing the stories out of chronological order.

  115. Big Mike @114:

    The chapters are as follows:
    A prologue, an interlude, and an epilogue (unnumbered)
    5 in Tag
    5 in Whitecrest
    6 in Special Tasks
    1 in The Silver Tiassa

    17

    tST isn’t part of a prologue, epilogue, or interlude, which is what Steve traditionally calls unnumbered sections. Therefore it’s a chapter in itself, which makes 17

  116. So, it’s been bugging me, where was Lady Teldra in Special Tasks? Vlad clearly didn’t use her in the fight with the Issola, because there was no mention of Sara’s uncle being Morganti-ed, plus Vlad had time to think before it started. So he used his rapier instead and dropped it in the mud during the fight. So the weapon Sara returned to Vlad was almost certainly not Lady Teldra, yet he was healed by the weapon and left custody only after Sara visited. Did Vlad lose her at the river, or did he have her all along, and somehow none of the Phoenix Guards or Khaavren sensed her or saw her? Maybe Loioish was holding on to her?

  117. He lost her at the river, and Sara brought her back to Vlad. That’s why Khaavren saw Issola footprints at the riverside. And Sara returned her when she visited him, which is why he was able to escape moments after being barely able to sit up. tchrist @86 explains more fully.

  118. Just dropped in to say, terrific work, Steve. I’m still trying to work out just how Vlad allowed himself to be separated from Lady Teldra, but otherwise _Tiassa_ is perfect buffet of tasty Dragaeran goodness.

    Things that stood out for me:

    Devera is NOT (yet) a God. The consequence being that she is constrained to a linear personal timeline so she can’t jump back/forward to a moment in time that she has already lived through, on pain of paradox. It’s an interesting conundrum – With all of time and space at your disposal, what moments do you choose to experience, knowing that you can experience each of them only once? You could build a story around that concept alone.

    Vlad Norathar looks to have the potential to surpass his father in the Witchcraft department.

    The Author potentially could pay Vlad in “trinkets”. I’ll have to keep an eye out for Vlad showing up with a digital watch. Or an espresso machine. 😉

    Do we have a clue what effect, if any, the silver tiassa had on Feorae’s life? Turned him into Sherlock Holmes or Perry Mason? 😉

    Vlad must have been on tolerably good terms with Lady Saruchka already if she was comfortable handling and being in the presence of Lady Teldra, and if Loiosh was comfortable fetching her to bring her to Vlad while he was being tended to by the physicker.

    The conversation at the end of Chapter the Sixth is obviously the identical conversation as the Epilogue. Two different narrators. Two different settings. Two different viewpoints. Very interesting. One wonders where Paarfi got his information from and how much he knew about the actual event when he chose to depict it happening at the Owl’s Feet. Had he been misled or did he deliberately omit and/or change many details for his own purposes?

    Mostly, _Tiassa_ was, IMO, a brilliant example of telling a single narrative in episodic format and from multiple viewpoints. I thoroughly enjoyed it, especially since I was not particularly enamored of _Jeghalla_. (You can’t please all of the people all of the time.)

  119. Thank you once again for a wonderful interesting read. I have a couple thing not discussed yet. Typo in the middle of special tasks. Also, why didn’t Khaavren recognize Vlad right away? He spoke with him in Teckla and must have seen him in Phoenix(Vlad was with the empress 3 times) also he and Pel would have neccesarily known of Cawti and therefore Vlad as she was arrested twice(wouldn’t papacat have carried that out?). So are we not getting the full story or is the story teller using his perogative to change things as neede dfor the story at hand. Like when Fentor changed from a tsalmoth to a dragon to coincide with the viscount story.

  120. Yes, it does seem odd that Khaavren would not recognize Cawti and Vlad. His normal duties probably do not require much interaction with Easterners so these two would surely stand out.

    However, why should he give away anything while he is investigating. I’ts a “You know that I know but maybe you don’t know that I know that you know that I know” scenario. (I think having Pel as a friend makes Khaavren treat everyone, or at least everyone he investigates, like they are Yendi. Probably complicates many cases that are fairly straightforward that way.)

  121. Reading Tiassa again… Chewing down through the layers…

    I like that theme of ‘tiassaness’ in the book is approached from several directions. Vlad and Piro’s section wherein Vlad is inspired to interesting plots. Then we have the Whitecrest section. We get to see directly how the Tiassa view Vlad and the Jhereg.

    I agree with several others that Athyra was a tough book for me. Savn’s somewhat simplistic understanding of Vlad meant that Savn’s observations left out the parts of other Taltos novels I really enjoy. Stepping into the heads of several characters as they skirt around Vlad in this book was truly refreshing. I liked that these POV’s were more complex and that they had intriguing thought processes of their own while at the same time considering Vlad and his machinations.

    On the relationships stuff, Vlad and Dragareans: We see a lot of Vlad’s disdain for dragaereans in previous books. Interestingly, this book being partly of the Dragarean view, we see their disdain of Easterners, especially with Daro. Though, perhaps, her views seem to become tempered as she spends time with Cawti. Also Vlad’s distaste for Dragareans is changing with the Sara relationship.

    This book resolves some bad feelings for Cawti, at least on the reader’s part. Cawti gets to save Vlad in revenge for him saving her. This closes some circle between V and C and he seems to be getting closer to Sara.

    I hadn’t realized that Norathar was so important to Cawti. They speak about spouses not having to be the most important thing in one’s life, then affirm that each values each other’s opinion with “Do you care about it?” “No, but you do so I do.” When Vlad and Cawti are separating he keeps ignoring and undervaluing the things that are important to Cawti. Hmmm. Don’t know how I missed the strength of Cawti and Norathar’s friendship. Hell, she named her kid after Norathar.

    Anyways, just some thoughts and musings.

    One last thing… Did the Dragonlord Feorae draw any kind of cool inspiration from the silver Tiassa? It was in his possession for a couple ‘a years…

  122. First things first… for the esteemed author, I’d just like to say that there is no fantasy or sci fi series that I have read as often and loved as much as the entire Dragaeran saga. Amber comes close, but not close enough to be a contest. I liked Yendi and Teckla, too, and I don’t consider Cawti boring at all. Your ability to write a solid woman’s voice is impressive, and Cawti is very much the black or white impulsively awesome she-warrior that would go through the hard transition from badass to maternity with some stumbling around.

    I look forward to Vladsday with glee, purchase the hardbacks, and then purchase the Kindle books because those lines at the grocery store are damned long. Keep it coming. Life is more fun with Vlad around.

    Tiassa was very good. Not the best, but you set the bar for the best (Orca… everything about it… brilliant, with Dragon and Issola coming in right behind it) very, very high.

    Now then, picking the nits and puzzling them over in a way that just barely stops short of coming up with fanfic plots. I can’t see Vlad stashing Lady Teldra, ever. The Left Hand figured out a way to get at Loiosh once, and the only way to stop that attack was with a little help from his Friend. Even though he had Mario cancel that member of the Bitch Patrol (which I think makes more sense than having him do a hit on Triesco, anyway), there’s no guarantee that someone else isn’t going to figure it out. He’s reckless with his own safety, sure, but that’s the kind of risk he couldn’t ever take.

    At the end of Iorich, we have Vlad deciding to stick around in town after Lady Teldra revealed a pretty useful power and simultaneously called off the deal that the Left Hand had with respect to Cawti and (one would assume) South Adrilankha. You’ve got to think there’s a getting to know you period between him and Lady Teldra during that time. And at some point during his time blowing through his resources, I expect there was another confrontation with the Left Hand, or he wouldn’t have felt comfortable leaving his estranged wife and son vulnerable to go off and catch a concert (even with his favorite bard of all time), much less go catch up with Svan to bring him a present.

    Speaking of which. Vlad had to have stolen the silver Tiassa. How else could it possibly wind up in Svan’s hands? He uses it to get in touch with Lady Teldra, we miss the whole waking up bit, and he has a contest of wills with her in which he impresses the importance of not eating the souls of people who are out to do him harm unless he says it’s okay. And also, to remain “cloaked” so the Left Hand doesn’t track his ass down while he’s visiting with his kid. Kind of necessary and all.

    My take, after reading through this thread and standing on the shoulders of people who pieced things together that I hadn’t thought of, is that Dathaani found out about Vlad’s theft of the silver Tiassa through a dream sent by Verra. She’s just the sort of bitch to set the Jhereg up for political upheaval (Vallista?) like that. Hell, she probably set Vlad up for his own setup by sending him a dream that he couldn’t ignore which suggested that little shelf ornament might be Useful.

    I’m still not altogether comfortable with the fight by the river ending with Vlad nearly dead and parted from Lady Teldra, but courtesy could have something to do with it. Particularly if he was trying to convince Lady Sara to go rolling in the rushes with him shortly before the battle and she was in hiding watching the whole thing (which seems likely).

    Ramble, ramble… loved this installment, and can’t wait for more. Thank you, Mr. Brust, for the many, many pleasant hours of my life spent hanging out with Vlad and Company.

  123. …And then again, this could have happened before Ioritch. In which case I’m still putting a jigsaw puzzle together with fractal edges. In either case, I’m deeply amused and off for another re-read of Ioritch with that perspective in mind.

  124. I would describe how much I loved this book but I’d blow an adjectival fuse. You nailed it! You saved Savn (and I had thought badly of you for leaving him forsaken … now I’m ashamed of myself). Vlad sitting across from Pel was the understated best rendition of Vlad ever. I am in awe. Thanks!

  125. I meant sitting across from Piro … sheesh

  126. Loved it…but felt like the last two books hinted at a rapproachment between Vlad and Cawti, and with Tiassa it seems like he is moving on…confusing.

  127. Although this comment is a hijack, I don’t know where else to put it.

    I just reread Orca (mostly to reacquaint myself with Timmer) and discovered to my amazement that more than a decade before the big meltdown and also Madoff, Steve had these financial shennanigans exactly right. Le plus ca change… They will never learn. Timmer does seem like a sympathetic character.

    Now I gotta reread Athyra to find out about the interaction between Vlad and Sara. This is mentioned in passing at the end of Orca. After reading Orca, one question remains. How does Vlad get in touch with Keira before he knows who she really is? The book opens with his meeting her, obviously at his request.

  128. I found Tiassa to be a thoroughly enjoyable read. My only criticism would be in regard to length. Particularly that section which appeared to have been penned by a certain writer of historical romances. While said writer is well known for his brevity and, one might even say, his economic use of words, I feel certain that in this case the editorial staff may have been responsible.

    Wonderful book, thank you for continuing to write and good luck in your new digs.

  129. About the length: I always thought that was a deliberate act of benevolence. Since you read each Vlad book 2-5 times before waiting till you completely forget it (and starting all over again), if they were any longer you wouldn’t have time to read anything else.

  130. It is always nice when it is another author who is impatiently encouraging you to get busy and write the next one:

    http://www.boingboing.net/2011/05/03/brusts-tiassa-versat.html

    (Summary: Cory Doctorow really liked it, and can’t wait for the next one.)

  131. re the big meltdown and Madoff.

    Not to take anything away from Mr Brust but the economy melts down on a regular basis every 10 to 20 years and scam artists like Madoff have been around from the beginning of recorded history. He was more likely basing his story on history rather than attempting to make any bold predictions as to the future. (Predicting that the rich will get richer and the poor will always get screwed over isn’t that bold a prediction.)

    Anyway if you want to see some examples of scams wrecking the economy you can look up

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulysses_S._Grant_presidential_administration_scandals#Scandal_summary_table

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Ponzi_schemes

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savings_and_loan_crisis

    and that’s just the tip of the iceberg

  132. Like many readers, I systematically re-read the entire Dragaeria opus each time a new book shows up. I am in awe of how the strands of history interweave, how events have a past and a future, while still being true to the characters in whatever present we find ourselves.

    Unlike some, I appreciate Athyra more on each reading. (Heh, compare its place in the series to ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ in the Bond series.) It is refreshing to see Vlad from a total stranger’s point of view.

    The series is clearly gathering momentum toward a towering climax in the last books; so many previously separate people and events are converging. I can’t wait.

  133. @Lewis H.: There is certainly a recession every 10 to 20 years but it is not correct to call it a meltdown. During my lifetime, the recent decade marked the only meltdown. I guess the S&L scandal in the mid 80s might qualify but even there the only people who might have lost out were relatively small investors. And all the recessions back to the 50s were just that, recessions and not financial meltdowns. What happened in the just completed decade and also in Orca was that major investors got caught up in a spiral of exuberant expectations and got killed. AIG, Harvard U., so on and so on. Perhaps this happened in the 20s–I think it did–but not in my lifetime. Both the banking system and, of course, the Madoff investors got caught in a Ponzi scheme of incredible proportions. And this was the situation in Orca in which the Dragon, Orca, and even the Imperial treasuries got killed.

  134. Several people have complained about a release date of sometime in July for Canada – I have no idea what this is. I only noticed that this book was out last week (much to my surprise – I didn’t think it’d take so long for me to notice), so I went to my local independent bookstore, asked if they could order it, they said yes, and I had it a few days later. At which time I sat down and spent the rest of the evening reading the book, grinning and chuckling to myself often. (In case it isn’t obvious from context (and possibly from spelling), I am in Canada.)

    I am rather curious about this statement that we the readers will hate SKZB for this book, as I couldn’t find anything at all to dislike in it. I will have to reread to decide for sure, but I think that this will end up as one of my favourite books in the series. (Hard to top Issola – Vlad gets to save everyone while being partially disabled and when even Sethra Lavode, a bunch of gods, Morrolan and Aliera can’t? So much fun!)

    And as I absolutely love the Khaavren romances (possibly liking them even more than the Vlad books but it’s hard to really compare) I was thrilled to come across Paarfi in Tiassa! His writing style completely cracks me up. Again I have to re-read to really get a sense of how well I think the book went together, but I certainly enjoyed the process of reading it. There are few authors who’s books I enjoy reading more, and by that I mean more than just the fact that I enjoy the story, I actually really enjoy the process of reading it. The books are just so much fun. I read quickly in general, but I actually slow down for these because they’re so worth savouring. Then I read them again. And again. So thank you, thank you, thank you SKZB, for writing books that are always fresh, different, and just so much fun!

  135. I found the fact that the entire book technically revolved around Vlad’s attempt to get in the sack with the bard highly amusing.

  136. Just finished Tiassa! Noticed it at Borders in hard cover and had to have it. I think I’ve got every novel published under Steven’s name but not any works done as short stories, etc. If I understand how authors get paid it means he’s made probably no more than $25 off my purchases. A crime really.

    I enjoyed Tiassa so much it prompted me to actually hunt down this site and post. The changing styles of writing made me appreciate how far he has come as an author when you look back to early works like To Reign In Hell. The great storytelling and interesting characters were always there but the mastery of language to evoke vivid emotions and pictures has steadily grown.

    Many thanks to Steven and all who support him so he can pursue his passion!

  137. Try this scene but Sally is Devera. The Doctor is Vlad and the comic book is the silver Tiassa. (and change lizard for Jhereg). (or maybe vice versa since the Doctor does the time traveling.)

  138. @Kate,

    I think the tongue in cheek, “oh the fans are going to hate this,” comes from the timeline issue. Vlad just after Yendi makes up most of the Vlad-voice. Whitecrest is just before Dzur (I think, based solely on Norathar teasing Cawti about calling Vlad Norathar “the Boulder”– a pet name that any parent of a 3-4 year old child can appreciate). The entire Paarfi narrative and epilogue is post-Iorich, but gives only the tiniest hints about how Vlad is going to come to terms with his Jhereg problems and dwindling resources.

    That being said, this fan has no problems with all of the above. I just wish I knew how and when Vlad got the silver Tiassa back. There’s a story there, but skip it. 😉

  139. I quite enjoyed the differences in how Khaavren and Vlad react to the people they both mutually know. For instance, Khaavren can’t suppress a thrill at being acknowledged by Sethra, whereas Vlad is openly flippant towards her, if not borderline insolent at times.

    I imagine Khaavren would choke on his Klava if he were to discover that this Easterner was intimate friends with Sethra, Aliera, and Morrolan. Not to mention his cavalier attitude around them.

    Concerning Pel, it is amazing how little he knows of Vlad considering the number of scrapes and incidents Vlad has been involved in throughout the years. His spies could obviously sniff out Vlad’s history with the Jhereg, and he would have access to the court documents concerning the Elde Island incident. It would not be hard to ascertain that Vlad worked as Morrolan’s security consultant either. But I suppose the rest would be rather obscure and beyond his grasp to gather.

  140. Another fantastic book. I also must admit how much I enjoy reading everyone’s comments and musings over putting everything together.

    @Kem 140 i think you are right about “hate” being the timeline issue.

    We always want to know “where does this book fit in the timeline.” (I think of Steven’s note at the front of the collection books: “One of the questions I’m nost often asked is: ‘In what order would you recommend reading these books?'”) One could argue that every section of the book (except the Epilogue) would have another Taltos novel in between it.

    (Which is why I will continue to orginize my collection by publication order…I’m not splitting Tiassa into pieces!)

    I do wonder about the placement of Special Tasks. It seems like most are placing it after Iorich. I tend to place it before. I can’t prove it because Steve is too good at saying things with more than one possibility, but here’s why.

    1) The conversations about lovers with Cawti in Iorich. I think it is Sara he is referring to. Yes, it could be Lada Teldra (thanks Steve) so we can’t be sure. I also think the events of Iorich make it a lot less likely that he considers becoming lovers with Sara…

    2) The fight by the river and the healing. Steve earlier answered someone about the “subtle” way Sara brings Lady Teldra to the injured Vlad to heal him (@88). He could have dropped her at the river: clearly Sara picks up a weapon there. The question for me is: rapier or Great Weapon? I think she picks up the rapier, but brings Vlad Lady Teldra. I can’t believe anything would possess Vlad to drop Lady Teldra. I also think if he had had her, he doesn’t have any problem with the fight. I think he did not have her with him.

    I think that, at this point, he is concerned about being located by the Left Hand through Lady Teldra (from the evens of Dzur). So he left her somewhere: either with Sara, or where Sara might be able to get her (a future short story about Sara’s frantic contact with a certain undead Lavode?) By the time Iorich comes around, he is either not concerned about this, or willing to risk it.

    3) The general behavior of Vlad in Special Tasks: pursing Sara, concerts, visiting Savn…makes more sense pre-Iorich then post. Cawti and Vlad Norathar are in considerable danger by the end of Iorich, and Vlad seems focused on staying close. He would not risk putting Lady Teldra down. He also would not have hesitated to prevent himself from being badly wounded and kill Sara’s attacking family, even upon realizing they did not mean to take his soul: after all, severely beating or killing him would leave Cawti and his son unprotected.

  141. After rereading Tiassa, I decided to go back to the beginning and reread Taltos. The warnings about the Left Hand of the Jhereg from that early in the series were sort of eerie. They just felt like throwaway lines back when I first read them so long ago.

  142. More smiles in this book for me than in most of the recent ones. Thank you!

    Steven, I hope you’ll comment on Nan’s suggestion here, which Scott Schultz also made on the Dragaera list, that Chapter the Sixth and the Epilogue describe the same scene from two different points of view and levels of knowledge. I can see reasons to believe it and reasons not to.

    Since people are discussing favorite books in the series:

    1. Athyra

    2-4. Phoenix, Orca, Dragon. Dragon might be my favorite of those.

    Yendi is at the bottom–but I still enjoyed it.

  143. Well, I just re-read all the books again. Picked up a couple of tidbits here and there which stand out a little more with all of the books fresh. Not sure where Tiassa will end up in my all-time favorites list, but it will be near the top, I’m sure!

    I do hope that Vlad and Khaavren can continue to build some kind of relationship, even if it is just grudging respect…assuming fate brings them together again.

    Somewhat more worrisome to me is what Pel will think/do when Khaavren reports just why this upstart Easterner has become so pivotal in the defense of the Empire. I would hate to see Pel and Vlad working against each other, (either overtly or by chance) for the simple reason that they are both so adept at it.

    Tukko is quickly becoming my one of my favorite characters…if for no other reason that he seems to be contempuous of everyone, not just short-lived Easterners.

  144. Hi Curtis @144,

    I agree that it would be fun to see what grows between Vlad and Khaavren. Khaavren seems to see Easterners in general as less than Tekla, saying about Cawti: “Flatter her by treating her with a courtesy as if she were human – they cannot resist that”. Yet, Khaavren bantered with Vlad in both versions of the ending, which I think shows some level of respect.

    I am curious why you think Pel would consider Vlad as an “upstart” and a problem. Vlad has personally performed several great services to the Empire, in addition to being a friend and supporter to his Empress. The only reasons I can think of are:

    (1) While Vlad’s previous service are all well and good, Pel may think that as an Easterner Vlad cannot help but ‘revert to form’ at some point, and so provisions must be made.

    (2) Sethra the Younger may get her way and have the Empire invade the East, and Vlad may act to stop it and the Empire.

    (3) Pel wants to make sure the ‘right person’ gets Godslayer, currently in the hands of a short-lived Easterner.

    As for Tukko, Steve has certainly provided a lot of contradictory clues, with regards to Tukko’s public performance for visitors as opposed to his private performance for Sethra. He reminds me of “Albert” from the Diskworld series, a previous wizard who lives and serves in Death’s realm to avoid and postpone real death in the outside world.

  145. Tiassa, p311, paragraph one — I cannot help but think that Pel is a little contempuous of Vlad, simply from his description of our illustrious hero.

    “…this Szurke, Lord Taltos the Jhereg…” — Maybe its just my cynical nature, but I can hear a certain disdain in his voice there.

    He further goes on to say that he wants to know “…what this Easterner is doing, and why he is doing it. I want to know his plans and intentions. …he is a mystery, and this disturbs me.”

    Pel proves in the next paragraph that he is willing to work behind the scenes, even if his inquiries are not entirely in accord with the wishes of Zerika.

    I hope when Khaavren tells Pel that Vlad is the bearer of a Great Weapon, Pel’s curiousity will be satisfied and his concerns put to rest. I wonder though if something along the lines of reasons above in dreyna’s post@145 may be the case.

    Zerika isn’t going to be empress forever, and Pel’s ambitions may not be satisfied with being a “former” Prime Minister, if he even still is at the time of Tiassa. While we don’t know for sure just how long it will be until Norathar’s reign begins, it seems reasonable to assume that Vlad could enjoy a longer than normal lifespan due to his skill in witchcraft or some facet of his link to Lady Teldra.

    Of course, all this is probably moot speculation. Steve probably has an entirely different take on everything, and we can only await his pleasure. And I didn’t put that in there just so he wouldn’t use anything about Pel vs. Vlad in the books. And I lie sometimes.

  146. Actually I think we can figure out exactly how far from the events of Tiassa Norathar’s reign begins simply by looking at the dates given for publication at the start of Sethra Lavode. At least we know the Jenoine aren’t going to be taking the world back in the next couple of centuries.

  147. Idea for Steven Brust drinking game:
    Drink whenever a form of the word ‘laconic’ is used.

  148. @Kurt 141

    You bring up a lot of the same things I was thinking.
    As far as the whole pre or post Iorich question on Special Tasks is concerned, it pretty much boils down to one thing, though. Vlad didn’t know Lady Teldra could heal him until the end of Iorich.

    My first thought on why Vlad didn’t execute Sara’s family on the spot was that he didn’t feel comfortable with finalizing people Morganti style unless they were Jhereg, but I have to agree. It’s just out of character for him to take on losing odds with an inferior weapon if a Great one was on him at the time.

    So here’s another theory. He left Lady Teldra at the inn, locked up, and went for a walk with Sara because even a sheathed Great Weapon is not exactly what a guy wants when he’s trying to get a gal in the mood. He met Sara by the river, and got jumped. It fits.

    Also, after re-reading a few times, my take is that Paarfi made the whole concert thing up entirely out of thin air. He certainly didn’t know about Timmer’s ability to track Vlad down. The actual meeting was the one by the river, and certain events (including Vlad standing side by side with Papa Cat while wearing Lady Teldra, because there’s no way in hell that Vlad’s going into a public place in Adrilankha naked) never happened.

    All Paarfi knows is that somehow, Khaavren found Vlad. So he elaborated. One might even go so far as to say embellished.

    Also, no reason to assume that Khaavren is actually disdainful of Easterners. Again, that’s Paarfi projecting. I think. May need to reread Teckla just to be sure. 🙂

  149. Kem@149

    You have shaken my faith in Paarfi.

    Next you will tell me that Khaavren’s deft snatching of success from the jaws of utter failure at the end of “The Phoenix Guards” also never happened, but instead everyone just shouted at each other until Tortaalik decided that the ravings of this insignificant guardsman could be used to rid himself of the overly ambitious GreyCat, as well as provide an opportunity to appropriate GreyCat’s assets into his own treasury (as was evidently done by the decadent emperors of Rome).

    I will agree that in Paarfi’s telling, Vlad seemed awfully cheerful and sanguine while being in full and unprotected public view in the middle of Adrilankha, quite unlike the Vlad we know from Dzur and Iorich.

    I hope we can still consider most of Paarfi’s work as cannon, since it is all we have for large portions of Dragaeran history.

  150. I would like to talk about Dragaeran state secrets.

    It seems to me upon reflection that the events at the Lesser Sea would be treated as a state secret, because while the outcome was a complete success, the fact that is was a very close contest to the end would not be very good for the morale of the Dragaeran populace. I especially believe that the fact that the success was at the hands of person who was both Eastern and Jhereg would be an unpalatable and unacceptable narrative for most Dragaerans.

    The question is then, exact how secret was this?

    Khaavren for example knew basically what had happened but not exactly who was there, though he could make some good guesses. The fact that he was unaware that Vlad was there indicates that he was never fully briefed on what really happened, because Vlad’s presence and actions would have stood out like a Teckla best man at a Lyorn wedding (if I may).

    How about Pel? He is the one informing Khaavren, but was Pel himself directly told? He wants to know “what this Easterner is doing, and why he is doing it. I want to know his plans and intentions. … he is a mystery, and this disturbs me” (to borrow from Curtis@146). This could be that he simply mistrusts any intelligence he did not get on his own, but I would think that a frank discussion with Sethra or the Zerika would have answered a great deal for Pel, most specifically concerning Lady Teldra. My conclusion is that he has not had those discussions, and that even Pel is not fully privy to this secret, since he had to send Khaavren to discover the existence of Vlad’s Great Weapon.

    How then about Sethra? In Issola, she describes how she is “watching the Great Weapons”, and at the end she tell Vlad that he is a “member of a rather exclusive club”. This “club” appears to be a literal thing, and separate faction that is somewhere between the Empire and the Gods. Perhaps Sethra as a loyal citizen and as a Lavode would brief the Empire on the “club’s” actions, but also perhaps she purposely does not share everything, keeping her own secrets for the sake the “club”. It was in fact said somewhere that the Great Weapons serve a greater purpose, presumable one above and beyond the Empire (and the Gods also?).

    And what about the Empress? In all her interactions with Vlad, she seems quite well informed about Vlad and those secrets that surround him. I feel that Sethra would indeed share information with Zerika because of their personal history and for the sake of the Empire (via the Orb), on the condition that Zerika does not directly share some of that information with the rest of the court (in this case Pel). I also feel that Pel knows this, and thus actively tries to get information outside of Zerika’s knowledge (as per his interaction with Khaavren).

    Like Kiera (in Orca) sorting the factions and secret groups, and Verra (in Issola) asking “In order to serve whom? Me? Aliera? Morrolan? Sethra?”, there are many layers in this grand picture, and thus many layers of secrets. The surprise for me is that Pel, whom is known and trusted as a central figure in the stories and presumably to the other major players, is never-the-less apparently and purposely out of the loop on some central secrets, and certainly he does not like it. The outcome of this mislike and his investigations may have some very interesting consequences.

  151. Jerry: Sorry, I won’t comment on that one.

    Dryna: I give you my word, Paarfi is at least as accurate regarding Dragaeran history as Dumas was regarding French history.

  152. I might be late, but I only got ahold of Tiassa recently as an afterthought to rereading the Khaavren Romances (which I did for a second or third time, I’ve lost track, because I recommended the books to my brother). Upon reading Tiassa I immediately reread Iorich – or perhaps I reread Iorich in preparation for (and while awaiting the arrival of) Tiassa.

    And once I had done that, I took some few moments to decide to reread the entire Vlad series – and no sooner was that decision made than it was acted upon. Now I am on Dzur, a scant tree weeks later, about to round the Cycle, as it were, for a third, perhaps fourth time. After all, memory is like a watchacallit.

    Of all of this I am glad for only one thing – that when I first discovered Dragaera, the Vlad series had reached as far as Issola, and that Dzur came out before I had finished. I fear that given the expectation of no fewer than six more courses in this meal, I will find myself tromping (and swaggering, and tiptoeing, and at times teleporting) through Dragaera in Vlad’s footstep again, and again, and again.

  153. I actually think my favortite book so far is that Telnan short story. Although Id have loved an epilog where Sethra makes him tell her exactly what that message was he wanted Daymar to give her…and her response to it 🙂

  154. Michael @154, since you have brought up Telnan, I am going to advance a theory that I have been considering. The question: why was Telnan not at the battle of the Lesser Sea against the Jenoine?

    On paper he was far more qualified than Vlad to be there, being in possession of a fully realized Great Weapon. He was presumably there downstairs during the planning at Dzur Mountain. Plus, with the odds that narrow any additional Great Weapon would have been quite well advised.

    A logical person would state that in ways we do not understand Telnan is still young, either as a person, or in skill, or in his relationship with NightSlayer, and so was not ready for this battle. (I will say though that Telnan appeared quite capable when he met Vlad later that same day.) Or maybe Telnan was needed back at Dzur Mountain, perhaps to assist Tukko with the engines therein.

    A cynical person would say that this is because Telnan really did not exist as more than a name until the next book, Dzur. (I myself subscribe to the opposite view here, that given the very rich story of Dragaera these characters have always existed, quietly whispering their histories into Steve’s ear.)

    As for me? Let me first observe that even though we learned from Sethra that the Great Weapons are designed against the Gods, they are never-the-less quite well behaved in their presence, almost polite. The blades of Morrolan, Aliera, and Sethra are regularly in the presence of Verra, and even when Godslayer placed Vlad right at Verra’s back, Godslayer made no further action against Verra (and no, I do not think that Lady Teldra has yet awakened and taken control of Godslayer). And when these blades were all within spitting distance of half the Gods of the world at the battle of the Lesser Sea, they instead focused on the matter at hand against the Jenoine.

    But what do we know of Nightslayer? From Telnan’s short story, I would say that Nightslayer is most definitely not a “polite” Great Weapon, and given how it made its acquaintance with Telnan, he moreover does not have much control over this blade. I therefore think that the reason Telnan was not at the Lesser Sea was that Nightslayer upon arrival would have observed all of the Gods present and directly laid into them, ignoring its and Telnan’s long term interest in defeating the Jenoine first.

  155. I loved it. The Vlad books are my all-time favorite, please keep them coming.

  156. I know that I’m going to severely regret showing my ignorance of history and literature, especially on this site, but…

    I’ve never studied French History, much less compared Dumas to it, so I need to ask, is the following statement, “I give you my word, Paarfi is at least as accurate regarding Dragaeran history as Dumas was regarding French history.”, saying 1) Paarfi is accurate, and one does not need the salt shaker when reading his works 2) Paarfi is inaccurate, although he tells a good tale, 3) Paarfi is making things up as he goes along, similar to a Hollywood movie history in that things like names right, but eveything else isn’t, or 4) Mr. Brust is engaging in sarcasm to such an extent that nobody knows whether it is (1), (2), (3), or something else altogether. Please be kind in your remarks, using words of one syllable or less for your answers to the literiaryly ignorant chemist who is trying to learn something of literature and history, which are completely foreign concepts to his way of thinking.

  157. @dreyna (155) I don’t think that Nightslayer’s aggressiveness has anything to do with his absence at the battle. Telnan is quite obviously “in charge” now (IMHO) despite his negotiations with the weapon during the short story. In fact, I think that Nightslayer is no respecter of persons, and would be just as happy eating the soul of a short-lived easterner as any scaly, short-tempered god.

    Regardless of the ‘why’ I am amused by posting this vision of Sethra’s musings at some estimable point in history:

    “…Well! That was tragedy narrowly avoided! It is no small wonder that Verra did not dream this and take steps to avoid it. Hmmm…I wonder if she did? The bitch.

    Well, no matter. We won, and even in time to take Telnan to task over the mess in the dungeons.

    Telnan.

    Damn!

    *sigh* …Perhaps I shall send him to Vlad.

    The gods alone know what I was thinking, allowing the child to leave here with what is arguably the most potent weapon in existence –hush, love– (caressing the hilt of Iceflame) and setting him loose upon the world.

    …Chaaaaz!!!”

  158. Love, love, love “Tiassa”. It has everything, explains some things, ties things together. I have yet to reread it because I am currently rereading “Five Hundred Years After”. I am so looking forward to the next book.

  159. @ junglejim

    We have seen elsewhere characters from the Khaavren romances through the eyes of other characters, notably Aerich who comes off far less sympathetically.
    Dumas’ portayal of D’Artagnan – an historical figure who did in fact captain the Royal Musketeers under Louis XIV – was highly fictionalized to make a good story. Paarfi seems to be engaging in history not as a factual account of past events, but drawing a larger meaning applicable to the present, and bolstering his point with a selection of historic facts, filled in with whatever he likes. He probably really does think he is an historian, but Dumas certainly did not.

    Pel as seen in this novel is not being portrayed as a hero. He’s not as all-perceptive as Paarfi has portrayed him, and his position as Prime Minister seems to have limited his avenues of information, to say nothing of action.

    Take Paarfi with a pound of salt.

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